Due to the economy and tight finances, we're not going to be able to go to the beach this summer (which we've done for the past few years) . Although a week-long trip is out of the question, it is possible that we could take an overnight trip somewhere, so MiniCyn and I are trying to come up with an activities that is fun, interesting, and different. A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a marathon on The Travel Channel of a show called Cash and Treasures. If you haven't ever seen it, the show features activities that center around finding all sorts of items, usually (but not always) naturally occurring, that people hunt for or collect, and the surprising value that can come of these "finds." Some of the featured items I saw while watching were things like: - geodes/thunder eggs - gold (creek panning) - fossilized megalodon teeth (a huge paleolithic fishlike creature - fossils are found in shallow freshwater rivers and inlets) - meteorites - trilobite fossils - relics from the Civil War; also from the Revolutionary War - sunstones - sunken treasure and so on and so forth. The episode that really piqued my interest was one about mining for gemstones. There are several mineral/ore deposits located throughout the US, rich in a wide variety of semi-precious and precious minerals and gemstones. Interestingly enough, one location can contain several different kinds of gemstones -- some of the ones commonly found include: - rubies - aquamarines - topazes (blue and gold) - garnets (red and green) - emeralds - sapphires (blue and white) - citrine - fluorite - iolite - amethyst - quartz (rose, smoky, and clear) - aventurine - moonstone - tourmaline - peridot - agate (several colors) - gold Cutting to the chase, has anyone here ever tried their hand at gemstone hunting (by way of flume or sluice mining, creeking, or digging)? I was thinking that an overnight or weekend trip to one of the mines in North Carolina might be a fun idea, especially since the cost would be a fraction of a beach vacation. I'm also looking for an alternative to the typical day trips like the Aquarium (either Atlanta or Chattanooga), the Tellus Museum, or the Atlanta High Museum of Art In addition to this looking like it might be an interesting (and potentially rewarding) something for MiniCyn and I to do together, I have a personal reason for wanting to try my hand at gemstone mining. I've thought about it a few times over the past several years, but my reason for being so hesitant is a rather long story, and until recently, giving it more than a fleeting thought has gotten me upset. Now I think I'm ready, but I'd love to hear some feedback as to whether or not it is worth the time, money, and sweat .